Chief David Splain today (Jan. 10, 2023) announced the arrest of a Glenolden man in the attempted theft of a catalytic converter from a vehicle parked in the lot of the Crum Creek Valley Condominiums back in September.
George Paul Greller Jr.,44, of the 100 block of East Glenolden Avenue, was already in custody at the George W. HIll Correctional Facility on unrelated offenses when he was charged on Monday with one count each of theft of secondary metal, a first-degree misdemeanor, and criminal mischief, a third-degree misdemeanor. His preliminary arraignment is pending.
Splain noted that catalytic converters, which help a vehicle clean its exhaust, have become a target for theft because of the price of precious metals like palladium and platinum that are used in the parts.
It was in late September when Detective Michael Erickson was assigned to investigate recent thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles in the parking lot area of the condominium complex in the Wallingford section of the township.
Township police responded to the complex on Sept. 23, when Erickson spoke to a witness who said he confronted suspects as they were underneath vehicles in the parking lot area. The witness told Erickson he saw a light-colored Nissan sedan in the parking lot that matched the description on social media posts of a vehicle involved in the recent theft of catalytic converters.
The witness confronted one of the suspects, later identified as Greller, before the suspect fled in a silver/gray Nissan Sentra. Using his cell phone, the witness photographed the fleeing vehicle, capturing its Pennsylvania registration KXD-8063. The witness also described the suspect as a white male in his 40s, bald or with a shaved head, with tattoos on both arms.
Erickson entered the registration into the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation database and found the 2019 Nissan Sentra was registered to a Parkside man. When he attempted to contact the registered owner at his residence, Erickson was told the car owner no longer lived at that address.
Through one of several anonymous tips from people familiar with the Nissan Sentra, Erickson was able to track the owner of the Nissan Sentra to an apartment in the Holmes section of Ridley Township. At that point, the owner told Erickson that he had loaned his Nissan Sentra to Greller, a friend who had been staying with him, and that Greller was in possession of the vehicle on Sept. 23, 2022.
When shown an array of eight photographs, the witness without hesitation identified Greller as the white male he saw on Sept. 23, 2022, trying to remove a catalytic converter from a vehicle and then flee in the Nissan Sentra.
Erickson is aware that catalytic converters are being targeted by thieves due to the high value of precious metals that are found inside and can be melted and sold for profit, according to his affidavit of probable cause supporting charges against Greller.
Based on prior investigations, Erickson said people who steal catalytic converters have access to many tools used for cutting, and blades for some of the powered cutting tools. The tools are mainly battery powered and rechargeable such as oscillating tools and reciprocating saws. But some are manual cutting tools such as cat cutters, tail pipe cutters and multi-purpose pipe cutters. Numerous blades are needed so actors normally store a large quantity of the blades for ease of access.
“Actors committing catalytic converter thefts typically have pieces or remnants of the equipment stored in their vehicles and homes, as well as pieces of the catalytic converter that have no value. Actors committing these types of thefts are paid in cash usually to fulfill a dependency,” the affidavit states.
Chief Splain lauded Erickson’s efforts that resulted in charges in this “quality-of-life” crime.
In this particular case, Splain said, the owner of the targeted vehicle reported damage to the catalytic converter, which required repairs and parts replacement.